§ 163-166.4. Limitation on activity in the voting place and in a buffer zone around it.
Overview of Statute
Section mandates a buffer zone per each voting forum set no more 50 feet from forum entrance nor less than 25 feet and restrictions to political activity.
(a) Buffer Zone.–No person or group of persons shall hinder access, harass others, distribute campaign literature, place political advertising, solicit votes, or otherwise engage in election-related activity in the voting place or in a buffer zone which shall be prescribed by the county board of elections around the voting place. In determining the dimensions of that buffer zone for each voting place, the county board of elections shall, where practical, set the limit at 50 feet from the door of entrance to the voting place, measured when that door is closed, but in no event shall it set the limit at more than 50 feet or at less than 25 feet.
(b) Area for Election-Related Activity.–Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, the county board of elections shall also provide an area adjacent to the buffer zone for each voting place in which persons or groups of persons may distribute campaign literature, place political advertising, solicit votes, or otherwise engage in election-related activity.
(c) Special Agreements About Election-Related Activity.–The Executive Director of the State Board of Elections may grant special permission for a county board of elections to enter into an agreement with the owners or managers of a nonpublic building to use the building as a voting place on the condition that election-related activity as described in subsection (b) of this section not be permitted on their property adjacent to the buffer zone, if the Executive Director finds all of the following:
(1) That no other suitable voting place can be secured for the precinct.
(2) That the county board will require the chief judge of the precinct to monitor the grounds around the voting place to ensure that the restriction on election-related activity shall apply to all candidates and parties equally.
(3) That the pattern of voting places subject to agreements under this subsection does not disproportionately favor any party, racial or ethnic group, or candidate.
(4) That the county board has attempted to secure as a term of the agreement at least 36 hours prior to the opening of the voting place and at least 36 hours after the close of the voting place, as provided in G.S. 163-166.01, for candidates to place and retrieve political advertising. The agreement may also provide that any political advertising placed outside the times specified in this subsection may be removed by the property owner.
An agreement under this subsection shall be valid for as long as the nonpublic building is used as a voting place.
(d) Notice About Buffer Zone and Area for Election-Related Activity.–No later than 30 days before each election, the county board of elections shall make available to the public the following information concerning each voting place:
(1) The door from which the buffer zone is measured.
(2) The distance the buffer zone extends from that door.
(3) Any available information concerning where political activity, including sign placement, is permitted beyond the buffer zone.
(e) Buffer Zone and Area for Election-Related Activity at One-Stop Sites.–Except as modified in this subsection, the provisions of this section shall apply to one-stop voting sites in G.S. 163-227.2, 163-227.5, and 163-227.6.
(1) Subsection (c) of this section shall not apply.
(2) The notice in subsection (d) of this section shall be provided no later than 10 days before the opening of one-stop voting at the site.
(2001-460, s. 3; 2003-365, s. 1; 2007-391, s. 13; 2008-187, s. 33(a); 2009-541, s. 22(a); 2017-6, s. 3; 2018-144, s. 3.4(c); 2018-146, s. 3.1(a), (b); 2019-110, s. 1.5(b).)
- Voting Place
1. Definition for Voting place
“Voting place” means the building or area of the building that contains the voting enclosure.
2. Definition for day
The term “day” means calendar day.
3. Definition for board
The term “board” means the State Board with respect to all candidates for State, legislative, and judicial offices and the county board of elections with respect to all candidates for county and municipal offices. The term means the State Board with respect to all statewide referenda and the county board of elections conducting all local referenda.
4. Definition for Board
Board. – Any State board, commission, council, committee, task force,
authority, or similar public body, however denominated, created by statute or
executive order, as determined and designated by the State Board, except for
those public bodies that have only advisory authority.
5. Definition for State
“State” means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
6. Definition for person
The term “person” means any business entity, corporation, insurance company, labor union, or professional association.
7. Definition for election
The term “election” means any general or special election, a first or second primary, a run-off election, or an election to fill a vacancy. The term “election” shall not include any local or statewide referendum.
8. Definition for Election
“Election” means the event in which voters cast votes in ballot items concerning proposals or candidates for office in this State or the United States. The term includes primaries, general elections, referenda, and special elections.
9. Definition for candidate
The term “candidate” means any individual who, with respect to a public office listed in G.S. 163A-1411(80), has taken positive action for the purpose of bringing about that individual’s nomination, retention, or election to public office. Examples of positive action include any of the following:
a. Filing a notice of candidacy, filing a notice to be retained, or a petition requesting to be a candidate.
b. Being certified as a nominee of a political party for a vacancy.
c. Otherwise qualifying as a candidate in a manner authorized by law.
d. Making a public announcement of a definite intent to run for public office in a particular election.
e. Receiving funds or making payments or giving the consent for anyone else to receive funds or transfer anything of value for the purpose of bringing about that individual’s nomination or election to office. Transferring anything of value includes incurring an obligation to transfer anything of value. Status as a candidate for the purpose of this Article continues if the individual is receiving contributions to repay loans or cover a deficit or is making expenditures to satisfy obligations from an election already held. Special definitions of “candidate” and “candidate campaign committee” that apply only in Part 2 of this Article are set forth in G.S. 163A-1475.
10. Definition for Candidate
“Candidate” means any individual who, with respect to a public office listed in G.S. 163A-1411(80), has filed a notice of candidacy, notice of retention, or a petition requesting to be a candidate, or has been certified as a nominee of a political party for a vacancy, or has otherwise qualified as a candidate in a manner authorized by law, or has filed a statement of organization under G.S. 163A-1412 and is required to file periodic financial disclosure statements under G.S. 163A-1418.
North Carolina Cases
Case Name: Clayton v. North Carolina State Bd. of Elections
Citation: 317 F.Supp. 915
Federal District Court: Eastern District of North Carolina
Case Summary: Even if Executive Secretary of the State Board of Elections of North Carolina personally delivered amendment to voting law to assistant U.S. Attorney General, where state did not request Attorney General's consideration of change pursuant to statute rendering inoperative any change of standard, practice or procedure as to voting in areas covered by the Voting Rights Act, unless change receives prior judicial approval or has been submitted to Attorney General who has not interpreted objections, delivery did not constitute "submission" within the Act.